I want to share with you my experience in Club 33 for the first time. Let me start off by giving you a little history to Club 33. Walt Disney built Club 33 to be an exclusive club. The World’s Fair inspired him to create Club 33 when he noticed the VIP sections for other company’s guests.
Back in 1957, there was a “lost land” of Disneyland called Holidayland. This area was there until its closure then subsequent removal in September 1961.
This is the area where Walt decided to build New Orleans Square. New Orleans Square opened in July 1966 with the construction of Club 33 continuing after the opening of the land. The club didn’t officially open until 5 months after Walt’s death on December 15th, 1966.
Walt had envisioned the club to be the special place to house VIPs only. After his death though the Disney Corporation opened memberships to everyone. The problem now is that the list is 14 years long. They haven’t even opened up for new members in the past decade until earlier this year. The cost to join the Club is around $25,000 and the annual cost to keep the membership is around $10,000. So as you can imagine the odds of getting a membership and actually keeping it are very slim. Rumors circulating are stating that there are around 500 members. I’m guessing you can understand my excitement when I received a call from a new friend of mine asking me to join her for lunch in the Club.
About 2 weeks before my trip I received a call from a newly made friend asking me if my wife, Courtney (now ex-wife), and I wanted to join them in Club 33 for lunch. I was so ecstatic. This week was going to mark my 100th day in Disneyland and I wanted to make it special. Being able to go into Club 33 was going to do just that. We made plans ahead of time to meet outside the green door at 11:30 am.
The anticipation I felt was so hard to handle. Courtney and I kept seeing people going up to the door to ring the buzzer for a Cast Member to open the door for their reservations. While standing there I overheard passers-by commenting on what was behind the green door. Some people knew exactly what was behind the door. Others just guessed or had some outlandish idea of what the Club was. A few people even stopped to pose next to the address, a giant number 33 on the door frame.
At 11:30 right on the dot, my friend approached. She rang the buzzer and a Cast Member let us in. The CM checked the reservations list and told us to wait for a few minutes to be taken upstairs and asked if we wanted to check our backpacks or bags for pickup later. I opted to keep mine but Courtney turned hers in and received a ticket stub for it. It was time to go upstairs and the CM asked if we wanted to take the stairs or the red old fashioned elevator that Walt had designed after the ones in France.
Our companion took the stairs to the upper floor. My wife and I opted to ride in the elevator though, sharing a kiss on the way up.
A prop from the “The Happiest Millionaire” (1967) greeted us when we exited the elevator. It was a phone booth from the movie. This movie was the last film that Walt had a creative hand in making,
The hostess led us past the Club 33 “gift shop,” past the bar (the only place that serves alcohol in Disneyland) and buffet over to our table for four. The server introduced herself and explained how the ordering worked and shared a little history of The Club. They poured us Evian water straight from the chilled glass bottles, and mind you, kept it topped off the entire time. I ordered the “farm-raised Texas blackened redfish” and Courtney ordered the “grilled lamb top sirloin.”
While the server placed our order, we visited the buffet. Talk about a great spread. There were different types of salads, deli meat trays, cheese platters, fruit bowls, other delicacies which I didn’t even know what they were and mini foods. Walt, as you may not know, liked miniatures, so there were some edibles created to look like miniature foods. Like little rolls about 1” in diameter filled with meat and a little rose made out of salmon. They were very cute; I didn’t even want to eat them. My friend grabbed a crème brûlée from the dessert bar claiming that they will run out by the time we are ready for dessert.
While we waited for our food to arrive, Courtney and I went out onto the balcony to peer out over New Orleans Square. Everyone looked so tiny from so far up. Okay so we weren’t that far up, but still, it was an odd feeling to be looking at everything from up there. Some of my friends were walking by the Pieces Of Eight shop and waived up at me. We sat out there for a few minutes soaking in the scenery overlooking the Rivers Of America and watching the pirates singing below.
Our food arrived, and we were delighted with the flavor, and the food décor was just beautiful. The wait staff was right on top of things by keeping our waters topped off with iced cold Evian.
The server offered us Pirate Punch, a delicious mixture of fruit juices, in a chilled glass with a flashing character clipped to the edge of it. I ordered a skull and crossbones, Courtney a Tinker Bell.
The waitress brought us copies of our menus to take home.
After we ate, we visited the dessert bar for some éclairs, Mickey mousse, mini slices of chocolate mousse cake, Mickey-shaped coconut cookies dipped in chocolate, mini slices of fruit tarts, mini apple pies, some other assortments of sweets, but no crème brûlée.
My friend was right; they were out. While eating our assortment of overly sweet desserts, the man behind us asked Courtney if she could take his photo with his girlfriend. She obliged and saw him starting to get down on one knee in front of his girlfriend. Courtney quickly figured out what this gentleman was doing and switched his phone from taking a photo to being able to record him proposing to her. Ahhhhh! Everyone in the room started clapping when she said “yes”, and the pastry chef made them a congratulatory dessert.
We were told to check out the restroom as they have a special look to them. All the countertops, in the men’s bathroom at least, were covered with black marble and the whole design seems to date back to the ’30s.
In the women’s bathroom, the toilets looked like wicker chairs with a lid that opens. Both of them have a little table with paper towels set up for drying your hands. The paper towels even have the Club 33 logo on them.
We checked out the “gift shop” which was just a large glass case with monogrammed Club 33 shirts, jewelry, key chains, cuff links, and pins.
Across the room from the bar was a harpsichord that once belonged to Lillian Disney herself. One of the cast members stated that it has to be tuned every time before it is played.
In the narrow hallway that bridges over the top on the New Orleans Square walkway, there was a table that was used as a prop in the musical “Mary Poppins” (1964). That film is one of Courtney’s favorites, so she just had to pose with it for a photo.
On all the walls are original works of art by Disney animator and attraction designer, Marc Davis.
We walked through the trophy room that was full of taxidermied animals. Apparently some were animatronic, but none were moving at this time. My friend pointed out the hidden microphones in the chandeliers. Walt intended to use to them listen to his guests’ opinions of the place. On the walls are butterflies in shadowboxes from Lillian Disney’s own collection.
We took many photos of our experience in the Club and said goodbye to our server. Then we worked our way down the red-carpeted stairs to the bottom floor and walked back out into the sunlit street of New Orleans.
I originally wrote this article for Mouzekateerz5 and it was published on November 25, 2012, so some of the information might be a little outdated.
If you found this article to be informative, you should check out my book that has over 3,700 fun facts in it about Disneyland, California Adventure, and Disney Movies. www.DisneyGuy.org